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Should You Show Your Subject What You Have Written?

May 30, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 94

If you've written an article about a person, should you show that person what you've written before you send it to the editor for publication?

A journalist would advise you against it. This is understandable, considering the quantity of articles they are writing, and the short deadlines they have to work to. It simply isn't practical to do so if you have only a few days - or maybe a few hours - to write and finish your article.

On the other hand, I have read of prominent feature article writers who will advise you to do so, and that was the advice I took from the beginning. I have to admit, though, I've moderated this advice somewhat over the years I've been writing, but I still prefer to include the person in the final editing. Why is this?

First of all, I think it is important to see the article from the subject's viewpoint. He or she may seldom, if ever, have had the opportunity to have their life-story, hobby or passion showcased publicly. Your article will be shown to friends and family, hopefully proudly. It will be included in scrapbook albums, added to CV's, discussed and debated - it will be something special to that person. That is, if the facts are correct and the person feels properly represented.

To you, it could be just another article to store away in your cache of published items. To your subject, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime spot in the limelight, even if only to a narrow audience.

Stories abound of people who have been mildly or even seriously misrepresented by writers, however, so your subject will probably also be understandably nervous. Offering to show your writing to them before you send it to the editor is the best way to alleviate that anxiety.


I have learned from experience that it isn't always a good idea to simply e-mail a copy of your article to your subject, prior to publication. Why not? I have had subjects:

· Rewrite my article, cutting out things they don't think they said, and rewording quotes.

· Insert other comments that they may wish they'd said, but which were not talked about in the interview.

· 'Edit' my article, giving it a complete overhaul.

· Send a copy of my draft to another publication to be used by them also. Fortunately, it was to a small and free publication, and sent after my original one had been published, but I regarded it as a warning.

How, then, can I involve the subject prior to publication? There are two ways I have found successful:

One: E-mail the article, but with these notices added:

· 'This article is being sent for a fact-check only. You are not being asked to edit it in any other way.'

· 'As the writer of this article, I will take notice of any corrections you advise, but will not be bound to make changes to my article if I do not believe the change is warranted.'

· 'This article is copyrighted in my name. You therefore do not have permission to use or send it anywhere else.'

I have sometimes just sent the part of the article that includes facts about or quotes by that person.

Two: Phone the person, and read out the article. This can mean a long discussion if the person doesn't agree. However, people generally cannot edit from something heard as well as from something seen, so it is much harder for them to nit-pick. They have the opportunity to make corrections and be assured of the accuracy, and are content with this. They also do not have a copy that can be passed on to others.

In consideration of your subject, therefore, I do recommend including them in the editing process. However, in consideration of writing belonging to the writer, I advise some caution.

Do you need help to write better? Do you want some inspiration to put your thoughts into words? Could you do with some encouragement to develop your writing skills?

Click here to visit by Janice Gillgren

The blog on this site offers inspiration, encouragement and useful tips to writers at all levels.

Source: EzineArticles
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